Rethink Ireland Gives a HeadStart for Mental Health Programmes

3rd September 2023

Posted In: The Topic

Ten non-profit organisations providing vital youth mental health support services will be funded under Rethink Ireland’s HeadStart Fund. The organisations offer early interventions, well-being and resilience programmes, and other mental health supports, to young people in Ireland.

The HeadStart Fund is a €3 million, three-year fund, created by Rethink Ireland in collaboration with the Z Zurich Foundation and the HSE. It has been set up with the aim of supporting non-profits which equip young people with the skills they need to improve and maintain their mental health and well-being over time.

A survey of more than 2,000 young people by the Ombudsman for Children earlier this year found that almost 1 in 3 (28%) rated their mental health as ‘not good’. Considerably more girls (31%) also rated their mental health as “not good” compared to boys (16%).

For those who identified as non-binary, another gender or preferred not to say, only 6% rated their mental health as “good”, while 61% state that their mental health is “not good”.

Announcing the awardees of The HeadStart Fund, Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland said: “The crisis in youth mental health demands urgent action. We believe that non-profit organisations delivering community-led supports are a big part of the solution. All of our young people deserve access to mental health supports when and where they need it, and long before they are in a crisis situation. The ten awardees we’re announcing today are responding to this need, so that our young people can live fulfilled lives and can reach for their full potential.”

Awardees announced for The HeadStart Fund include:

•Childhood Matters “CHIPPS” Project based in Co. Cork, which provides trauma-informed mental health services for children and young people in care.

•The Bohemian Football Club “Pride on the Pitch” provides a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ young people in Dublin to participate in physical activity and feel comfortable discussing their mental health.

•Liquid Therapy “A Drop in the Ocean” Project based in Co. Donegal, which provides a supported environment that enables young people to experience the physical and therapeutic benefits of the ocean.

•Way 2 Work Ireland “Leaving no young person behind” based in Dublin, is a wrap-around service promoting and supporting employability to help to improve and maintain the mental health of young people emerging from the Tusla care system as well as early school leavers facing employment challenges.

•Involve “No Shame” Programme engages young people from the Traveller Community nationwide to break the shame and stigma of discussing mental health and increase their confidence and emotional resilience.

Sofyen Khalfaoui, Head of Improving Mental Wellbeing, Z Zurich Foundation said: “We have made mental wellbeing promotion and prevention one of our top priorities to help young people thrive, live at their full potential and save lives. Rethink Ireland’s HeadStart Fund can create genuine impact at scale by supporting mental wellbeing organisations expand their great work across Ireland.”

Anthony Brennan, CEO, Zurich Ireland said: “Our collaboration with Rethink Ireland on The HeadStart Fund, alongside the Z Zurich Foundation, is one way in which we and our local employees support meaningful social impact. As a leading Irish insurer, we aim to make a positive contribution to the mental health and wellbeing of young people across Ireland and we are looking forward to following the progress made by these ten organisations announced today.”

Aisling Duffy, National Mental Health Operations at the HSE said: “We are delighted to work with Rethink Ireland to deliver continued support through The HeadStart Fund to organisations who provide mental health supports to young people in Ireland. The HSE has, over a number of years, invested in ‘upstream’ youth mental health services for children and young people who do not need to access specialist mental health services. This includes a range of funded agencies in the community and voluntary sector that provide enhanced services for children and young people with mild to moderate mental health difficulties. The HSE is committed to supporting further positive change in this area and we look forward to involving more young people, including through the work of those awarded.”

Pictured: The Bohemian Football Club “Pride on the Pitch” provides a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ young people in Dublin to participate in physical activity and feel comfortable discussing their mental health. Members of “Gay Bohs” fan group are Lucia Stipicevic and Jim McElroy. (Image: Marc O’Sullivan).